By Sean Whyte
This week Vietnamese customs officials discovered and confiscated 2.4 tons of elephant ivory. The ivory had been shipped from Malaysia, again. Earlier this month the same Vietnamese officials confiscated a shipment of 2.1 tons of elephants ivory, once again shipped from Malaysia enroute to China.
As anyone can see, Malaysia remains a very important link in the illegal ivory trade, resulting in about 100 elephants a day being slaughtered just to provide ivory trinkets and ornaments. Does it cross your mind why the Vietnamese customs officials can detect ivory, but not their Malaysian counterparts? I mean. Both have human beings as customs agents.
Both have laws to uphold. However, when it comes to spotting ivory shipments, Malaysian government officials appear struck by something akin to selective blindness.
On Aug 12, this year Minister of Natural Resources & Environment (NRE) G Palanivel declared publicly an independent audit of ivory stocks held in Malaysia was unnecessary and his staff were “ ……. in the midst of doing an inventory of the ivory seized,” .
Two months later we are still waiting for the outcome. Against a backdrop of suspicion some ivory may have been misappropriated, do you think Perhilitan is struggling to make its sums add up?
An independent audit is the only acceptable answer. Preventing such an audit implies officials have something to hide, and here again their lack of transparency brings this suspicion and public exposure upon themselves. The minister also declines to have the ivory destroyed – after an independent audit.
If you were of a suspicious mind, you could be forgiven for wondering if there is any ivory left to destroy and might this be why the minister and his Perhilitan department don’t want the ivory put on public display prior to its destruction? What’s the point in keeping the ivory? More....